Article written by: Darren Welch
TJC Men’s Ministry Leader
In today’s digital-minded world, when we see the word redeem we might think of the process of redeeming a gift card or a promo code to make a purchase either online or at a store. This word redeem can also mean to buy back, to ransom, or to pay off, but whatever way we use it, it almost always has something to do with getting value back.
In Christian theology, the understanding is similar to these definitions but greatly intensified because of the immeasurable value at hand. The Bible uses the word redeem or redemption (Greek word: apolutrosis) to refer to the deliverance of Christians from the debt of sin by the means of a ransom or price paid.
Let’s dig deeper into what this debt of sin truly is and what it means for each of us.
God’s Word teaches that because of our sin against a holy God, we have created a separation between us and Him (see Isaiah 59:2). There is a debt that is now owed because God’s justice demands payment for our offenses against Him. This is not just the criminals or the “bad guys” of the world that owe this debt. The Bible makes it clear in Romans 3:23 that every one of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But not only that, Scripture teaches us that the problem goes much deeper and much further back. We can trace this debt problem all the way back to the Garden of Eden when sin entered the world through one man and all of mankind was affected. Romans 5:12 explains, “Just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Due to the sin of Adam, we are all born into this world with sinful natures (or as theologians have titled it, original sin). Apostle Paul helps us understand this in Ephesians 2:2 where he says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience”; in verse 3 he clarifies that we are all “by nature children of wrath.” Through these scriptures and many others, we learn that this debt problem of sin goes much deeper than we initially realize. And it is not just a few of us, but we are all in the same boat. All of us are floating erratically in a sea of debt to our holy and just God with no hope of saving ourselves or paying the debt off. We can all cry out with bankrupt hearts with Paul in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
So what is God’s answer to our spiritual bankruptcy?
Simply put, Jesus. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
The gospel of Jesus tells us that He has paid the ransom of this debt in full by dying on the cross for our sins. The One who knew no sin became sin for us and died on the cross in our place. “The righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). For it was Christ “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
When we let these gospel truths of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus settle in on us in faith, redemption becomes ours; debts are paid; chains of sin are broken; freedom is given; and we can now rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8). Charles Spurgeon cheerfully said, “I thought I could have leaped from earth to heaven at one spring when I first saw my sins drowned in the Redeemer’s blood.”
The deep-thinking 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards describes the purpose of Jesus’ redemption as follows:
“By Christ’s purchasing redemption, two things are intended: His satisfaction and His merit; the one pays our debt, and so satisfies; the other procures our title, and so merits. The satisfaction of Christ is to free us from misery; the merit of Christ is to purchase happiness for us.”
Personally, I like to look at it this way: Jesus came into our world to redeem the sinfully bankrupt, the adulterer, the drunkard, the greedy, the idolater, the liar, the prideful, the self-righteous, and every other broken person who turns to Him in faith. I am so thankful for this truth of God’s redeeming grace since I have fit in every one of these categories.
So when you put your faith in Christ, you must understand that your old sinful self has been crucified with Him at the cross and it is no longer you who live, but it is Christ who lives in you (see Galatians 2:20). In other words, Jesus has moved in and has reset your value in the eyes of the Father. When God looks at you and me, He no longer sees bankrupt sinners with no hope. Instead, God sees His Son dwelling inside us and we are fully loved and fully redeemed. Thank you God, our Redeemer. All of our hope is in You.